Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Painful memory #4,922

Being a student of behavior, I'm always extremely interested in the mind and its endless weirdness. Why do we have all the white-hot embarrassing moments etched into our brains forever and most of the good moments are shoved way back in the file drawer in a dusty folder? I was reminded the other day of a particularly uncomfortable moment in my life that in my plethora of psychoses, replays often. Why? Cuz I'm crazy, that's why.

My last quarter in college happened to be in the Fall, since I was cramming 5 classes into my schedule to finish in early December. One of those at a junior college 42 miles away round-trip. I was a maniac and sick to shit of school. I wanted OUT.

Being on the quarter system, my university started late in the Summer and finished early in the Spring. Our quarters were only 11 weeks long, which pissed me off to no end that I paid the equivalent of a black-market rhino dick for books and on average we only used a third of it. Then the fuckers at the bookstore would offer something really great like a whole fucking dollar for the "used book" that you'd opened twice and still made that creaky cracky sound if you tried to open it. Was a fucking scam, it was. But I digress...

That year it just so happened the first day of school was on my 24th birthday. (Yes, it took me eleventy hundred years to get through school so just shut up). I was feeling surprisingly ambivalent about it, which is rare since I try and turn my birthday into a national holiday that lasts at least 2 weeks. But I was very focused on school, my boyfriend was 100 miles away, and I didn't really care. About any of it.

I get to my first class, an upper-division Psych. course with a flamboyantly nerdy female professor who reminded me of a proper lady from 1850 complete with that up-do with a bun, which she wore every stinking day btw, but whom I suspected enjoyed the wacky tobacky in the afternoons. She might have been dressed in silk but she was supiciously half-lidded all the time.

After her brief introduction of our syllabus, in her slow toked-out manner, she instructed the class that we were to take turns one-by-one giving our stats. Year in school, major's, some little tidbit of personal info, etc. This is normally a painful exercise, but being a Behavioral Science major I'd gotten used to it and enjoyed watching the underclassmen squirm in their chairs while they tried to speak to an entire classroom of strangers. Or soI thought...

I was sitting in the second or third seat on the right wall, my normal spot that I'd claim on the first day and send out the usual don't even fucking think about sitting here ever vibe, and was one of the first to talk. When it was my turn I started with the requested and average info, Senior, BHS major, graduating that quarter, taking more than a full load.

Much to my unending for the rest of my life regret, without the ability to stop myself, out of my mouth popped "and it's my birthday!" Oh christ on a crutch. What was I thinking? Of course I immediately wished I could suck that back into my retarded brain. These people don't give a fuck about me or my birthday. What was I thinking?

With nary a beat skipped, the professor says, without a hint of sincerity, "Well then, let's all sing Happy Birthday".

Dear Earth, please swallow me whole. Thank you, Betty.

Mind you, I've only blushed about 4 times in life, but at that moment I think I turned a soft shade of eggplant. My eyes widened to saucers and I tried to stop that train of horror with my mind chanting over and over "no no no no no" and several lunatic hand gestures. But to no avail.
I proceeded to receive the most lackluster, pathetic, and slightly resentful rendition of the Happy Birthday song I've ever heard.

To make matters worse, if that was possible, when they all got to the stanza where you mention the birthday celebrator's name, I heard "Happy Birthday dear...ahhhh, ummm, what's her name again?" And the rest either fizzled out without the proper ending or I slipped into a welcomed and short-lived coma. With all eyes resting on me for what seemed like eternity, it took them 9 years to finish that song but that radioactive lead balloon finally landed. I think I actually punched the kid behind me to start talking.

And I still cringe thinking about that one.

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